On 10th February 2011, Poland mourned the passing of the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lublin, Józef Mirosław Życiński who died in Rome aged 63. Born in Nowa Wieś on 1st September 1948, the Archbishop was Bishop of the Diocese of Tarnów f rom 1990 to 1997 and also Grand Chancellor of the Papieska Akademia Teologiczna.
President Bronisław Komorowski said in a statement:
“It is a huge loss for all of us who feel part of the Church. It is the loss for all those who wanted to see the Polish Church combine tradition and loyalty to the faith, with the dream of a modern and open society.
“The judgments of heaven are unknowable. It happens that sometimes those people who are needed the most are suddenly gone. You have to live with it and continue to work towards the ability to connect what is important in a world of faith with what is important in the modern world.”
Archbishop Józef Życiński was ordained to the priesthood in 1972, following studies at the Częstochowa Major Seminary in Kraków. He earned his doctorate in theology in 1976 at the Pontifical Faculty Theology in Kraków. He earned a second doctorate in philosophy at the Academy of Catholic Theology (ATK) in Warsaw.
He was appointed to the See of Lublin by Pope John Paul II and continued his academic work with publications in several hundred journals, books and articles, as well as sitting on various committees from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences to the Papal Academy of Culture.
The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków said in a statement to The Global Herald:
After he concluded his PhD in philosophy (1979) Józef Życiński started teaching philosophy at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Kraków. With the change of the status of the Faculty, which in 1981 was converted by the pope John Paul II into the Pontifical Academy of Theology, he continued working at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Academy (today’s Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków). In 1982-1985 he was the Vice-dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and in 1988-1990 the Dean. He left the Faculty in 1999.
He was giving regular courses on logic and philosophy of science, as well as on philosophy of nature. Especially popular were his open, critical courses on Marxism, often infiltrated by the secret police agents of the communist regime of that time.
In the late 70’s, together with Michael Heller, he started to organize interdisciplinary monthly meetings of philosophers, scientists and theologians (mainly Polish, sometimes foreign) on philosophy and science as well as on science and religion relationship. These meetings continued for two decades. This interdisciplinary activity first stared under the auspices of the Archbishop of Kraków Karol Wojtyła, the future pope John Paul II. When Karol Wojtyła became pope (1979) they also started to organize these kinds of meetings (every two years since 1980) in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.
It is worth noting that when martial law was introduced in Poland in December 1981 Józef Życiński was deeply involved in helping arrested people as well as their families.